The Barrington Theatre, Ferndown
Review by Janine Pulford (Saturday 8 October)
“It’s more like a party than a show,” said Des O’Connor as the audience guffawed loud and long at his jokes, proving that even at 84, the TV chat show host and comedy legend can still bring the house down.
With clips of the stars with whom he’d shared the stage over his illustrious career, he took everyone down memory lane.
Ray Monk on piano read out questions from the audience to which Des had quick-fire responses, but the funniest by far was when Rita Morris called out “Is it true that Bradley Walsh is your love child?” To which Des laughed so much he nearly fell off his chair, but of course the good humoured answer was “no”.
He also had an instant response to the woman who’d seen him on tour in Norfolk with Lonnie Donegan, “What do you want?” he asked, “Your money back?” And there was another lady who had worked with him in 1951 and she felt sure he’d remember her eating jelly off her knitting needles.
He admitted that despite being the butt of Eric Morecambe’s jokes for many years, “Eric and Ernie were lovely guys.”
Des threw a tongue twister into the mix along with a few acronyms and mentioned he had a 12-year-old son, which drew a gasp or two.
He made reference to his five-year stint in Eastbourne where he said there must have been a genetic experiment to grow the oldest people in the world.
He’d toured with Buddy Holly, “I was there at the birth” he said. Then he sang ‘Raining in My Heart’ in his silky smooth voice which melted into the audience.
In the second half, more great numbers flowed and Des encouraged everyone to join in as he sang effortlessly accompanied by the band.
“I’ve never been to the Barrington in Ferndown before. It’s lovely isn’t it? We should come back for a Christmas Show,” he said before signing off with “You’ve been a lovely crowd – give a special hand for the boys.”
A true master of entertainment, Des is funny and wise and he engaged beautifully with the Barrington audience. He seemed as genuinely happy about them as they were with him, hence the calls for “more”, but having an ear infection probably held him back from an encore.
Fortunately it didn’t prevent him from meeting his fans after the show.
An unmitigated success, let’s hope the Barrington Theatre plays host to him again soon.